By Brad Greer
Former South Panola standout and current Ole Miss defensive back Jamarca Sanford of Courtland has been selected as the recipient of the 2008 Chucky Mullins Courage Award, which goes to a senior defensive player.
The award, which is sponsored by the Phi Bata Sigma and Phi Kappa Psi fraternities honors the late Chucky Mullins, a former Ole Miss player who was paralyzed during the 1989 homecoming game against Vanderbilt. Mullins passed away on May 6, 1991.
“It is a great honor to receive this award. It means a lot to me. If we can come together as a team and play like Chucky played, we can be very good. I really did not know who would get this award because we have players like Peria Jerry, Dustin Mouzon and Terrell Jackson who are so deserving,” said Sanford, who is the 18th Rebel player named for the award.
“I have always seen guys who win an award represent it to their fullest and best ability out on the field. You rub their heads every day. Now I have a true meaning in my heart since I received the award. I still have to go out and represent it to my best ability now. I knew that I had worked hard like Chucky would want anybody in that position to work.”
Sanford said wearing the No. 38 will put a different thought in his mind having that patch on his jersey.
As a junior in 2007, Sanford ranked sixth in the Southeastern Conference with eight tackles per game while finishing third on the team with 83 total tackles, fourth in tackles for loss with five per game and led with the most pass break-ups.
Sanford was recognized prior to the annual Red-Blue spring football game Saturday afternoon at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Nutt praises Sanford
The Ole Miss Athletic Media Relations released a press release on the Chucky Mullins Courage Award presented to Panola County’s Jamarca Sanford Friday night.
Head coach Houston Nutt said, “Our players are very excited that Jamarca received the award. Heart, attitude and toughness best describes why Jamarca is so deserving of this award. He’s a giver. From everything I heard tonight during the documentary about Chucky, I don’t think we could have picked a better person. The baton has been passed to Jamarca, and it’s an awesome honor and responsibility.”
As part of the banquet program, the audience, including Nutt’s entire coaching staff, viewed a shorten version of Micah Ginn’s documentary, “Undefeated: The Chucky Mullins Story,” which follows Mullins from his childhood days in Russellville, Ala., to earning a Southeastern Conference scholarship and playing for the Ole Miss Rebels, according to the release.
“I’m so glad that now, we as coaches, understand the Chucky Mullins story so much better,” Nutt said. “This was the first time that I heard the entire story and it’s really moving. I’m glad our players and coaches were here. I’ve always admired that number 38 and I knew it was for someone special, but until you sit down and listen to the story, you just don’t know the impact that Chucky Mullins has had on this program and on this school and the players. This was a moving night.”
Sanford, who wears No. 13, will have the honor of wearing a “38” patch on his jersey during his senior campaign. Mullins wore No. 38 as a player at Ole Miss.
A three-year letterman, Sanford will enter his senior season with 205 total tackles, including 121 solo hits. He also has 10 passes defensed, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one blocked punt, which resulted in a touchdown by Kendrick Lewis. During his three years with the Rebels, he has played in 31 games, starting all 31.
As a junior in 2007, Sanford ranked sixth in the Southeastern Conference with 8.3 tackles per game and finished third on the team in total tackles (83), fourth in tackles for loss (5.5) and pass break-ups.
Sanford earned third-team Freshman All-America honors from The Sporting News in 2005 when he was also a first-team Freshman All-SEC pick. He topped all SEC freshmen in tackles that year and was 12th among all league defensive backs, helping the Rebel defense finish the season 14th in the nation in pass defense, 27th in total defense and 31st in scoring defense.
Sanford joins 18 former Ole Miss Rebels to receive the Chucky Mullins Courage Award. They include Chris Mitchell, Jeff Carter, Trea Southerland, Johnny Dixon, Alundis Brice, Michael Lowery, Derek Jones, Nate Wayne, Gary Thigpen, Ronnie Heard, Anthony Magee, Kevin Thomas of Courtland, Lanier Goethie, Jamil Northcutt, Eric Oliver, Kelvin Robinson, Patrick Willis and Jeremy Garrett.